Painting Tips from Ed

 Ed Morris says:

I find that I am not painting as much every day as I used to. Even though I go out to my studio every day, some days I can only paint for an hour or so. Hopefully this will improve as things improve. In the meantime, I thought I might post some tips you might be able to use in your studio. I think this will be good therapy for me and some good stuff for you!


New Directions | What’s on Your Easel? | Painting Set Up | Color Strings | Limited Palette | Seeing Color in shades of Gray | Tips concerning art material containers | Golden Ratio | Brush Cleaning and Care


New Directions

A Little Bit of Winter – 18×18” oil on board

A Little Bit of Winter I decided to switch things up in my painting . I normally paint in an indirect style using thin layers of paint and glazes with a lot of fussing. I got some Geneva paints for Christmas which stay wet for five days, so alla prima here I come. I am learning in a painful way about blending on my canvas instead of on my palette. One stroke at a time and leave it alone. I asked for these paints for Christmas in order to make this a habit. My big art goal this year. My first crack at it!


Old Mill Site on Reems Creek – 11×14 inches oil on linen panel

Old Mill Site on Reems Creek For this one, the original of this scene had already gone to a good home. I decided to repaint it using my new slow drying paints for the PAPA show using the photo of the painting and the photos of the day out there. Q Tips and a palette knife for removing paint are my new friends. The strategy is to match the value and color as best I can out of the gate and not go back to correct by painting over what’s already been done. This nuanced approach slowed me way down but resulted in a more efficient way of painting. The result shows a clarity of purpose in laying down the paint. It doesn’t look like much up close but when stepping back it comes together. My wife, my favorite critic who is pretty blunt with me, told me, “I don’t know what you are doing, you need to paint more like this all the time.”



What’s on Your Easel?

Winter for me is working on some still life paintings. I have an adjustable shelf that I attached to the wall and a science project tri-fold foam core board I use as a backdrop in my studio. I got the idea from a how to video on still life painting and saw this in the background of the video a couple of years ago. I have three great ideas in various stages of development.

My son-in-law bought a little bottle of tequila while they were here for Christmas. When I saw it I knew I had to paint it, so I created the set up after they went home. I’m about halfway through this one and will post it when I complete it At this point I am mostly down to quarter inch and smaller in my brushes. At least the brush cleanup is easy.

The Reveal

I am a morning person. I’ve been retired for 11 years and started getting up later and then goofing around the house most of the morning before figuring out the day. I usually painted in the afternoon. I decided on this paining to get up early and have a quick breakfast and get out to the studio. My concentration is better and I think I am more productive and creative. Looking forward to a new routine this year!




Painting Set Up

So excited about my new still life set up area I built in my studio. Notice the artist mahl stick on my easel that slides on a rail for bracing my hand when needed.

Family Affair 15 x 12 inches Oil on Canvas Panel

My Aunt painted flowers on porcelain china. The pieces we have are exquisite pieces of art in their own right. This is one of her pieces, Barbara supplied the flowers and I chipped in a little paint.


Color Strings

Ushering in Summer. 16×24” oil on canvas panel

This is the largest plein air painting and I have attempted to date. Lots of challenges but still having a blast! Needs a little more work and I will finish it up once these layers of paint dry.

I created a lot of color strings in the studio to help me with the color recession of the yellow flowers as they moved back in a painting. The values in this painting are tight and subtle.


Limited Palette

I wanted to show the limited palette I used to repaint my study I mentioned in an earlier post. Limited palette of yellow ocher, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, chromium oxide green, and ivory black. I created a little color map on my palette to give me an idea how these would mix together before I started.


Seeing Color in shades of Gray

In my little flower painting….After my initial block in, I fell into the trap of trying to add more contrast by lightening the reds with white creating some pasty colors. When things go wrong in a painting, it is usually values. The vertical up right values of the flower petals in the light should be a step lighter than a middle value. It is hard to see the values of intense colors such as the reds I was using. So I sometimes resort to photographing the mixtures on my palette and then rendering them black-and-white to get rid of the color to see the actual values.

This is also a common mistake in landscape painting where the warm colors in the foreground are depicted lighter than they actually are.

When mixing your colors, think in terms of color family first, then value, and finally adjusting the chroma or saturation of the color.


Tips concerning art material containers

Today’s tip. Anytime you buy a new bottle or jar of something for your studio, carefully remove the lid while everything is clean and put a piece of saran wrap over the opening and then screw your lid back on. You will need to replace the Saran wrap each time but you will find that you do not have to worry about having your lids getting dried up gunk in them and sticking shut. Especially on those items that you don’t use that often.



Golden Ratio

We all use the rule of thirds in our compositions. Sometimes you may want to change it up a little. On my studio work….Once I have a fairly good idea of what I want to paint….I get out my trusty Golden Ratio Calipers or Fibonacci Gauge to help me decide how to divide my space/areas of interest and placement…..As you probably know the ratio is 1 to .618. You can divide then subdivide the space which I did on the first one to lay in the road in the front.
Outside, I divide my canvas in half, then in half for quarters..then in half for eighths. I will use 5/8 as starting point. This just gives me a general idea of where I might place objects in the painting. Or just use the rule of thirds…Or sometimes you just eyeball it as long as it looks “right”. No rules, just guidelines..
Intersections of the lines for thirds or golden ratios gives you a general idea of your sweet spots on your canvas.
You can get the calipers on Etsy from ilexopaca. I don’t know how to do a link on here.|
PS..I am back to painting again! 


Brush Cleaning and Care

Here are the things I use to try and keep my brushes in good shape. I typically clean most of the oil paint off of the brush in Gamsol. I then rinse the brush in a second container of Gamsol to get out the rest. This helps keep my brush less contaminated with other colors while I paint.

At the end of the painting session. I go through the Gamsol process first. Then I clean my brushes in my art sink with Dawn soap under running water. Massaging out any residue from the ferrule and heel, up through the belly to the toe of the brush. I do this several times rinsing the brush as I go. I then shape the brush and let it dry.

Every week or so…after cleaning my brushes, I will dip in Trekell Brush Restorer, massaging in the liquid, shaping the brush and letting it dry.

Do you have brushes with dried out paint in them? Then Brush Flush is for you. It can clean about any brush you have no matter the condition of the brush. I find it harsh, so I only use it if I have let paint accidentally dry on my brush and not for any daily use.